Well it finally happened. Our little Norfolk Female laid into my thumb tonight when I went to take a rawhide chew from her that was getting too small. Pretty good one too. Two punctures down to the bone.
My wife thinks it is my fault, but I think this dog has emotional issues. A very insecure dog that is very head-strong. She was mostly deaf when we got her at 1 year old and she has always been aggressive towards men wearing dark clothing. We think she may have been abused when she was a puppy.
Can anyone help identify how best to deal with this situation?
I would think that at this point she has a food aggression issue which is hard to overcome. You can desensitize her to it by just being close to her while she has a chew toy/food and slowly getting closer until your hand is by her mouth and then eventually petting her head while she has it. As time goes on she may eventually let you take it from her. Problems like this take a lot of patience to overcome, it won't happen overnight. Also, never ever let a child near her when she has something in her mouth. She's too unpredictable and a child won't understand growls and warnings to back off.
Why would your wife say it's your fault? Does she think you provoked the bite? Or is she blaming you for the handling of the dog?
What have you been doing to train the dog? If you've had concerns about aggression and think she is insecure, have you gone through obedience training? Any other activity to build her confidence and strengthen the bond between you?
Why do you say "it finally happened?" Did you see this coming over the course of 9 years, but did nothing?
Have you had her checked by a vet to rule out a medical issue?
And why are you letting your dog chew on rawhide?
What you do to correct the problem depends on your answers. It's one thing if a dog suddenly refuses to cooperate and snaps. It's a completely different issue if you've been living with a dog for nine years expecting it to bite you.
I don't know the whole situation, but from what you say I think you are both right. You know the dog has issues and yet you tried to take her food anyway? The dog has issues, so what have you done about them so far? That responsiblilty belongs to you and your wife. Maybe more so to your wife, if she is her dog. I don't agree with you wife blaming it all on you. How much time has she spent working w/ the dog? Having "issues" doesn't mean she gets to bite when she feels like it. What if she bites a stranger next time and they report it?
To the OP, you may have to go back to the beginning with this dog, because it sounds like she may have food aggression issues for a couple of reasons. Firstly she is deaf, and she may snap if someone surprises her with food, and who knows what happened to her before you acquired her. I would start feeding her out of your hand, and take her bowl away. If she seems to be more likely to be aggressive with you, rather than your wife, I would begin with you feeding her. If she won't eat, just put the food up, and wait until the next meal. Always keep water on hand. Keep this up, and when she is eating put your hands on her back, lightly, but don't make sudden moves. Have your wife do the same thing. Start to put the food back in the bowl, but touch the bowl as she is eating it. If she growls and snarls, take the food back out of the bowl, and make her eat it out of your hand. Persevere with this, until you can take her bowl away from her. I agree with NDY, rawhide is dangerous, and even though you were watching, and you were trying to take it away because it was so small, another piece could easily have broken off already. With a dog the age of yours, I would be giving her a nice meaty raw bone, and it will be good for her teeth and gums. Good luck with her.